COVID-19 must-know information for local businesses - check back for regular updates
This page is updated as new information becomes available. If you have questions or additions, contact Scott Rogers, the Chamber's Governmental Affairs & Workforce Director: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chippewa Valley Economic Recovery Task Force
Eau Claire County COVID-19 Information Hub
WEDC Reopen Guidelines
[May 27] Revised Eau Claire County Health Order goes into effect Friday, May 29
At its Wednesday media briefing, the Eau Claire City-County Health Department announced that an updated local order would go into effect on Friday May 29, through Thursday, June 11. It replaces the current order issued on May 18. The new order increases the number of participants who can attend an outdoor public gathering to 20. It also requires organizers of gatherings to obtain contact information for attendees in the event it is needed later for contact tracing. It's anticipated that local health officials will review and possibly update orders about every two weeks.
Eau Claire County COVID-19 Case and Local Health Order Updates (EC City-County Health Dept.)
New order effective May 29-June 11 (Eau Claire City-County Health Dept., 8 pages)
[May 21] Economic Recovery Task Force launches "Committed to Safety" business decal
The Chippewa Valley Economic Recovery Task Force has launched an imitative to help members of the public identify those businesses who have committed to safety by adhering to the local health order and follow WEDC guidelines. Those businesses can display a special "Committed to Safety" decal.
As part of the application to participate, businesses promise: "As a local business we recognize the importance of protecting public health in the operation of our business. We recognize that public confidence in health and safety measures is critical. In order to foster that confidence, every business has a role to play."
Click here for more information, including the application for businesses to participate in the program.
Contact Tracing, Operations, and Resources for Local Communities
Gov. Tony Evers Tuesday announced a robust $1 billion statewide effort to support COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, acquisition of needed supplies, emergency operations, and resources for local communities throughout Wisconsin. The effort is funded by $1.17 billion in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act dollars.
Click here for the Governor's news release with details
[May 18 Update] Evers withdraws DHS rulemaking
Scroll down for details...
[May 18 UPDATE] Eau Claire County updates health order to address one-on-one businesses
The Eau Claire City-County Health Department on Monday updated its COVID-19 Prevention and Control Order to address “those one-on-one personal services that by their very nature cannot maintain a six (6) foot physical distancing.”
The new order, effective May 18, includes a list of requirements such as the number of people allowed as part of the service, face coverings and other components. “This update comes after public health experts reviewed evidence and best practices for how to protect the public and workers who provide personal services, and are in close proximity for a duration of time,” according the a news release accompanying the updated order.
Health Department Director Lieske Giese also said some of the language in the overall order was revised to clarify recommendations vs. requirements. Like the previous order, it remains in effect through Thursday, May 28.
Full revised order (8 pages, replaces previous order)
[May 14] Eau Claire County Issues Local Health Order to Prevent Spread of COVID-19
In light of the May 13 Wisconsin Supreme Court order that struck down the statewide Safer at Home Order, the Eau Claire City-County Health Department is issuing a COVID-19 Prevention and Control Order that focuses on mandating physical distancing and controlling the size of mass gatherings to 10 or less.
"This order does not designate any specific type of business with any requirements around it, it is based only upon risk," City-County Health Director Lieske Giese said during a May 14 afternoon media briefing. "Our order is focused on risk. As long as someone can comply, they are allowed to be open."
From a news release issued jointly by the City of Altoona, City of Eau Claire, Eau Claire City-County Health Department and Eau Claire County:
The intent of the order is to provide a framework in which businesses can be open and community members can resume some normal activities, while protecting our community from the spread of this virus. The details of the order are based on data and best practices. Many of our individuals who tested positive are believed to have gotten sick due to travel outside of our community, mass gatherings, and lack of physical distancing in the work place or other settings.
These situations are instances in which it is easy for disease to spread and as a result, much of the order requires a continuation of physical separation of six feet or more, and keeping the number of people gathered in a confined area small.
Some details of the order include:
- Individuals are strongly encouraged to stay at home or their place of residence, minimize travel outside of the county, and keep their number of connections small
- Restrictions for both public spaces and public buildings, such as physical distancing and limitations on the number of people present at one time
- Mass gatherings of more than 10 people are not permitted
- Use of the WEDC guidance for business reopening
- Elderly and vulnerable people are encouraged to take additional precautions
- Under this order, all businesses, facilities, playgrounds, campgrounds and other amenities may open and operate unless they are unable to meet and maintain the safety and protection measures outlined in the order
- All people are strongly encouraged to continue maintaining physical distancing, good hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, cleaning high-touch surfaces, not shaking hands, and follow other WI DHS and CDC recommendations
This order goes into effect immediately and will be in effect until 11:59 PM on May 28, 2020
Chippewa Valley Economic Recovery Task Force
Eau Claire County COVID-19 Information Hub
[MAY 18] Evers withdraws DHS rulemaking, likely won't refile
Gov. Tony Evers’ administration on Monday withdrew its outline for a new emergency rule to manage the coronavirus pandemic after it came under attack by Republicans. State Department of Health Services officials notified state Senate President Roger Roth and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos in a letter that they had withdrawn the rule’s scope statement from consideration.
Evers told reporters he won’t pursue implementing a new statewide COVID-19 plan. "It just doesn’t make any sense spending a lot of time doing something we know isn’t going to be successful." He says he'll continue to talk with Republican lawmakers but won't pursue adopting a statewide COVID-19 rule for now because of their opposition to one.
[May 14] Evers Approves DHS Statement of Scope, Begins Administrative Rule Making Process
Following the Supreme Court of Wisconsin's ruling striking down Wisconsin's Safer at Home order, Gov. Tony Evers on May 14 approved a statement of scope developed by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) beginning the administrative rule making process to enact protections for Wisconsinites during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The framework for the proposed rule includes phased steps similar to the Administration's previous "Badger Bounce Back" plan, including limiting the number of persons in a confined space, social distancing requirements, limits on mass gatherings, and safeguards for businesses to protect employees and customers.
The rule now goes through an approval process that includes legislative oversight.
Meanwhile, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald met with the Governor on Thursday morning to discuss the rulemaking process and what a new order might look like.
Governor's letter (Office of the Governor)
Scope Statement (Office of the Governor)
Emergency Administrative Rulemaking Process (Wisconsin Legislature)
Evers administration lays out framework for emergency rule as guv knocks Republicans over ‘confusion’ (WisPolitics.com)
[May 13] Supreme Court Strikes down "Safer at Home" order
On Wednesday evening, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down the Evers Administration's latest Safer at Home Order. It ruled on a suit brought by the leadership of the Legislature that the Governor went beyond his statutory authority by not going through the rule making process that would have involved the legislature.
Although the suit had asked for a six-day stay to provide time to work out new rules with the Administration, the Court did not grant the stay and the ruling becomes effective immediately.
Some counties may issue their own orders. The following statement was issued late Wednesday evening by Lieske Giese, Director of the Eau Claire City-County Health Department: “In the wake of the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling regarding the Safer-At-Home order, the Eau Claire City-County Health Department is consulting with state and local authorities about possible next steps. In the meantime, in the interests of preventing spread of COVID-19, we respectfully request that Eau Claire County residents voluntarily continue to follow safe social distancing practices.” The Incident Command Group has announced that it will hold a special media briefing at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Industry groups responding to the order have encouraged their members who open to follow the Reopen Guidelines published recently by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC):
Click here to access WEDC's industry-specific reopening guidelines
Chippewa Valley Economic Recovery Task Force
Eau Claire County COVID-19 Information Hub
Link to the full Supreme Court decision (166 pages)
State Supreme Court strikes down Safer at Home order (WisPolitics.com)
Wisconsin Supreme Court strikes down Gov. Evers' Safer at Home order (Milwaukee Business Journal)
Wisconsin Supreme Court strikes down stay-at-home order; Dane County institutes local order (Wisconsin State Journal)
Statement by Governor Evers
Joint Statement by Legislative Leaders Sen Fitzgerald and Speaker Vos
WMC Statement on Supreme Court Decision
Chamber to take key role in Chippewa Valley COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force
The Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce will be taking a significant and active role in a new community-wide COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force. Click here for details
Link to new Economic Recovery Task Force web site
Link to Virtual Town Hall Update presentation on April 6
Click here for all Executive Orders (Office of Governor Tony Evers)
Safer at Home FAQs
Required Safe Business Practices (WEDC)
[May 11] Evers announces opening guidelines for standalone retail stores, drive-in theatres
Governor Evers announced Emergency Order #36, which allows all standalone or strip-mall based retail stores to offer in-person shopping for up to five customers at a time while maintaining required social distancing practices. Additionally, the Emergency Order signed today allows drive-in theaters to operate with some restrictions.
News release (Office of the Governor)
Order #36 (Office of the Governor)
[May 8] WEDC launches website with reopening guidelines
Missy Hughes, CEO and Secretary of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, on May 8 announced a new website with reopening guidelines for each industry sector.
"With input from national and state health and industry experts and in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism and our regional economic development partners, WEDC has compiled a series of industry-specific documents to help you get back to business while taking the necessary precautions to maximize safety," according to WEDC's announcement of the site.
Click here for the WEDC Reopening Guidelines web page
[Apr 27] Gov. Evers Announces Expanded Opportunities for Certain Nonessential Businesses
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on April 27 announced another of what he called a “turn of the dial” in adding allowed operations for nonessential businesses.
Emergency Order #34 goes into effect Wednesday, April 29, at 8:00 a.m. It allows nonessential businesses to do curbside drop-off of goods and animals. This will allow businesses like dog groomers, small engine repair shops, upholstery businesses, and others to safely open. The order also allows outdoor recreational rentals, such as boats, golf carts, kayaks, ATVs, and other similar recreational vehicles. Additionally, automatic or self-service car washes would be able to operate. All of these businesses must operate free of contact with customers by providing payment options online or over the phone, enact proper disinfecting practices, and operations must be able to be performed by one staff member.
The order adds to other business options that were added last week when the Governor’s previous “Safer at Home” order was extended.
Click the following for more complete details:
Full Emergency Order #34
[April 20] Evers announces "Badger Bounce Back" plan to restart economy
Gov. Tony Evers on Monday announced Wisconsin's "Badger Bounce Back" plan which outlines important criteria for Wisconsin to be able to reopen its economy in phases and includes steps to make sure workers and businesses are prepared to reopen as soon as it is safe to do so.
“The Badger Bounce Back plan is informed in part by the President's Guidelines for Opening Up America Again that was issued by the White House on April 16, 2020. Currently, Wisconsin does not meet the criteria the White House established to start reopening our state. The Badger Bounce Back plan takes important steps to get the state of Wisconsin there,” according to a news release from the Governor’s office.
Click the following links for more complete details:
Full Emergency DHS Order #31 (4 pages)
Badger Bounce Back Plan (6 pages with tables)
Plan in brief (2 pages)
WEDC Wisconsin Ready Plan (WEDC: 3 pillars for business restarts)
Evers announcement: Increased testing capacity
Evers outlines plan for phased reopening of Wisconsin (BizTimes Milwaukee)
Tony Evers unveils criteria for eventually reopening Wisconsin businesses (Wisconsin State Journal)
Video: Evers news conference (WEAU 13 News)
[April 16] Governor Evers extends Safer At Home Order to May 26, with some changes
MADISON -- Gov. Tony Evers today directed Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm to extend the Safer at Home order from April 24, 2020 to 8 a.m. Tuesday, May 26, 2020, or until a superseding order is issued. The order implements some new measures to ensure safety and support the progress we've made in containing COVID-19, but also allows certain activities to start up again. The order is available here.
“A few weeks ago, we had a pretty grim outlook for what COVID-19 could mean for our state, but because of the efforts of all of you, Safer at Home is working. That said, we aren't out of the woods just yet,” said Gov. Evers. “As I've said all along, we are going to rely on the science and public health experts to guide us through this challenge. So, as we extend Safer at Home, I need all of you to continue doing the good work you've been doing so we can keep our families, our neighbors, and our communities safe, and get through this storm together.”
“Before we lift Safer at Home, the steps of testing and more robust public health measures must be in place,” explained Secretary-designee Palm. “These steps will help us reduce the risk of a second wave of the virus. If we open up too soon, we risk overwhelming our hospitals and requiring more drastic physical distancing measures again.”
The extension of the Safer at Home order includes a few changes. Some changes allow more businesses and activities to open back up, while other changes help make businesses safer for employees and customers. The changes in this order include:
Businesses and activities ramping up service and operations:
- Public libraries: Public libraries may now provide curb-side pick-up of books and other library materials.
- Golf Courses: Golf courses may open again, with restrictions including scheduling and paying for tee times online or by phone only. Clubhouses and pro shops must remain closed.
- Non-essential Businesses: Non-essential businesses will now be able to do more things as Minimum Basic Operations, including deliveries, mailings, and curb-side pick-up. Non-essential businesses must notify workers of whether they are necessary for the Minimum Basic Operations.
- Arts and Crafts Stores: Arts and craft stores may offer expanded curb-side pick-up of materials necessary to make face masks or other personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Aesthetic or Optional Exterior Work: Aesthetic or optional exterior law care or construction is now allowed under the extended order, so long as it can be done by one person.
- Safe Business Practices for Essential Businesses and Operations: Essential Businesses and Operations must increase cleaning and disinfection practices, ensure that only necessary workers are present, and adopt policies to prevent workers exposed to COVID-19 or symptomatic workers from coming to work.
- Safe Business Practices for Retailers that Essential Businesses and Operations: Retail stores that remain open to the public as Essential Businesses and Operations must limit the number of people in the store at one time, must provide proper spacing for people waiting to enter, and large stores must offer at least two hours per week of dedicated shopping time for vulnerable populations.
- Supply Chain: Essential Businesses and Operations that are essential because they supply, manufacture, or distribute goods and services to other Essential Businesses and Operations can only continue operations that are necessary to those businesses they supply. All other operations must continue as Minimum Basic Operations.
Other changes include:
- Schools: Public and private K-12 schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.
- Local parks and open space: Local health officials may close public parks and open spaces if it becomes too difficult to ensure social distancing or the areas are being mistreated.
- Travel: People are strongly encourage to stay close to home, not travel to second homes or cabins, and not to travel out-of-state if it is not necessary.
- Tribal Nations: Tribal Nations are sovereign over their territory and can impose their own restrictions. Non-tribal members should be respectful of and avoid non-essential travel to Tribal territory. Local government must coordinate, collaborate, and share information with Tribal Nations.
- Duration: The changes in this order go into effect on April 24, 2020. The order will remain in effect until 8 a.m. on May 26, 2020.
Click here to read the full news release (Office of the Governor)
Click here to read the order (Office of the Governor, 21 pages)
Click here to dowlnoad FAQs on the new order (18 pages)
Business community reaction:
WMC Statement on Gov. Evers’ Safer at Home Extension (WMC)
MMAC's Sheehy calls Gov. Evers' Safer at Home extension premature, seeks flexibility (Milwaukee Business Journal)
Federal Action & Updates
click here for news and practical guides on federal programs
TOP STORY: Federal CARES Act provides $2 trillion,
including funding for forgivable emergency loans for small business
The bill allocates $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn. Known as the “Paycheck Protection Program,” the initiative provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses who maintain their payroll during this emergency. Importantly, these loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during the crisis or restore their payrolls quickly.
The Act also includes direct payments of $1200 to individuals, a corporate relief fund, an extension and increase in unemployment benefits (including help for self-employed individuals), tax incentives for businesses to keep people on the payroll, aid to the health care system, and funding for state and local governments.
Click here for full information on the CARES Act and other Federal Action and Updates
Including a list of local lenders who will be offering PPP loans
Stay on this page and scroll down for...
* Link to scheduled live updates and recorded webinars
* State of Wisconsin updates and resources - including Gubernatorial Orders
* COVID-19 resources and links from state, national and industry groups
See these Chamber-related pages...
Eau Claire Chamber COVID-19 Community Resources Page
Chippewa Valley Business Community COVID-19 Resource (Facebook Group for businesses)
Eau Claire City-County Health Dept COVID-19 page
Chamber Spring Election Guide (including absentee & early voting info)
Scheduled live updates and webinars
Click here for a regularly-updated list
State of Wisconsin
State of Wisconsin COVID-19 Update Page
Link to all Gubernatorial orders (Office of the Governor)
Safer At Home Order FAQs (Office of the Governor)
WMC COVID-19 Employer Toolkit
[April 16] Governor Evers signs bi-partisan COVID-19 legislation
Governor Evers on April 15 signed bipartisan state legislation to address Wisconsin's response to COVID-19 as both a public health and economic crisis. The bill includes provisions to complement the federal CARES Act, such as temporarily waiving the waiting period for unemployment benefits, and other measures to assist businesses, health care, and to capture additional federal dollars. It passed the Assembly on April 14, 97-2, and the State Senate on April 15, 32-0.
Evers signs COVID-19 bill (WPR)
Summary of bill provisions (Legislative Fiscal Bureau, 36 pages)
As more information becomes available on how businesses are affected by this bill, we'll post additional details.
Are you an employer facing layoffs or closing and need assistance with employees that will be dislocated from their jobs?
Here's a link to resources for immediate help
(Workforce Development Board and Workforce Resource)
Are you an employer with immediate job openings available to laid off workers?
Click this lick to share jobs open now
As Job Market Fluctuates, City of Eau Claire Wants to Connect Job-Seekers with Employers (Volume One)
The Wisconsin Restaurant Association is also looking for sources of temporary work for laid-off restaurant employees. If your business is hiring temporary employees, please send any open positions directly to Kristine Hillmer (email@example.com), President & CEO of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association.
Governor Issues Executive Order that Supports Increasing the Supply of Nurses [March 28]
The Governor on Saturday issued an executive order which suspends Administrative Rules of Health Care Providers and Professional Services Credentialing which includes sections of the Administrative Code for Nursing. By suspending these rules the Governor has created a pathway for increasing the number of nurse available to support the COVID public health emergency.
The Governor’s order accomplishes the follows:
- Allows Wisconsin Schools of Nursing to increase clinical education via simulation. The 50% threshold has been expanded.
- Allows for Graduate Nurse temporary licensure. The temporary license is valid until the end of the emergency or six months after availability of NCLEX.
- Allows for renewal of license for applicants that have been out of the workforce beyond five years without having to complete the five year refresher course. Applicants must be free of any disciplinary sanctions. Payment of licensure application fees are not required.
- Allows Advanced Practice Nurses to practice nursing care management without a collaborative agreement. This allows Wisconsin to be in congruence with 22 other states that provide for full practice authority for advanced practice registered nurses. This in turn supports increased patient access to timely and quality care.
- Allows for nurses from other states who are good standing with their Board of Nursing to practice in Wisconsin without applying for a temporary license.
Read Order #16 (Office of the Governor)
News release (Office of the Governor)
WNA’s Advocacy Efforts Pay Off! (Wisconsin Nurses Assn)
Evers issues order temporarily banning foreclosures and evictions [March 27]
On Friday afternoon, Gov. Tony Evers issued Emergency Order #15, which temporarily bans foreclosures and evictions. The order is effective immediately and shall remain in place for 60 days. Under this order, landlords are prohibited from serving any notice terminating a tenancy for failure to pay rent. As detailed in the order, landlords are also prohibited from commencing a civil action of eviction unless certain conditions are met.
Read Order #15 (Office of the Governor)
News release (Office of the Governor)
FAQs for homeowners, renters, housing providers in response to COVID-19 (WHEDA)
Evers Administration Issues Guidance related to business interruption insurance [March 26]
The Evers administration has issued guidance for essential businesses during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The guidance includes information about business interruption insurance from the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) and business loans and grants from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).
“This is an extremely difficult time for so many small business owners, restaurants, childcare centers, and others that have been hurt by this pandemic. Many are already making heartbreaking decisions about whether to lay off staff or close their doors for good," said Insurance Commissioner Mark Afable. “Every insurance policy is different, which is why our guidance includes several different steps.
“We encourage folks to first check their business owners' policy to see what is covered. Second, they should talk to their insurance agent or insurance company about their coverage. And, third, if they are unsure whether or not losses related to COVID-19 are covered, they should file a claim with their insurer. Our team is also available to help with questions and insurance complaints." A Frequently Asked Questions document regarding business interruption insurance is available.
News release (Office of the Commissioner of Insurance)
FAQs: Business Interruption Insurance (Office of the Commissioner of Insurance)
Gov Evers Directs DHS to Issue Safer at Home Order (March 24)
Click here to read the news release by the Governor's office
Click here to read the actual full order (16 pages)
Gov. Tony Evers today directed Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm to issue a Safer at Home order that prohibits all nonessential travel, with some exceptions as clarified and defined in the order. The order is effective at 8 am on Weds., March 25, 2020 and will remain in effect until 8 am Fri., April 24, 2020, or until a superseding order is issued.
“I know the COVID-19 outbreak has been difficult and has disrupted the lives of people across our state. Issuing a Safer at Home order isn’t something Ithought we’d have to do and it’s not something I take lightly, but here’s the bottom line: folks need to start taking this seriously,” said Gov. Evers. “Each and every one of us has to do our part to help slow the spread of COVID-19 so we can flatten the curve to ensure our doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers have the opportunity to do their important work.Let’s all do our part and work together.”
Individuals do not need special permission to leave their homes, but they must comply with this order as to when it is permissible to leave home. Similarly, if a business is an Essential Business or Operation as defined in this order, it does not need documentation or certification to continue its work that is done in compliance with this order.
Under this order, Wisconsin residents are able to:
- Perform tasks essential to maintain health and safety, such as obtaining medicine or seeing a doctor;
- Get necessary services or supplies for themselves or their family or household members, such as getting food and supplies, pet food and supplies necessary for staying at home;
- Care for a family member in another household; and
- Care for older adults, minors, dependents, people with disabilities or other vulnerable persons.
- Health care operations, including home health workers;
- Critical infrastructure;
- Businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise vulnerable individuals;
- Fresh and non-perishable food retailers, including convenience stores, grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and food banks;
- Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food and goods directly to residences;
- Pharmacies, health care supply stores and health care facilities;
- Child care facilities, with some limitations;
- Gas stations and auto repair facilities;
- Laundry businesses, dry cleaners and services necessary for maintaining the safety, sanitation and essential operation of a residence, including garbage collection;
- Hardware stores, plumbers, and electricians;
- Educational institutions, for the purposes of facilitating distance learning;
- Roles required for any business to maintain minimum basic operations, which includes security, and payroll; and
- Law and safety, and essential government functions will continue under the recommended action.
Follow up information and action:
How to determine if your business is classified as essential or non-essential
Pages 9-14 of the order have detailed definitions of "Essential Businesses and Operations."
There is also a reference in that part of the order to guidance from the US Dept. of Homeland Security among the definitions.
Click here to read the CISA guidance for those to whom this might apply.
Safer at Home FAQs (Office of the Governor)
Q&A for Employers on Stay at Home Mandates (MRA)
WEDC staff ‘working through the process’ of determining essential businesses (WisBusiness.com)
Gov. Evers Announces Federal Approval of Disaster Loans for Small Businesses
Gov. Tony Evers has announced that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved Wisconsin’s request for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to access low-interest federal disaster loans. “With the SBA loans now available to our state, small businesses and their employees have a little more certainty over their financial futures. This is another step in providing much-needed assistance to Wisconsin's small businesses," he said.
With unprecedented demand for the loans nationwide, processing of the applications may be delayed.
“We are encouraging business owners to reach out to SBA’s partners [mentioned below] and to SBA’s offices with their questions to help the loan application process go as smoothly as possible,” said Wisconsin's SBA district director, Eric Ness.
Under the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, businesses and non-profits may qualify for up to $2 million in loans to cover losses resulting from the pandemic. The interest rate on the loans is 3.75% for for-profit businesses and 2.75% for nonprofits. Participants may be able to extend payments for up to 30 years.
Businesses and non-profits can begin their loan applications at www.sba.gov/disaster. The Wisconsin Small Business Development (SBDC) Network and it partners are helping small businesses apply for federal disaster loans to mitigate the substantial economic injury as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Wisconsin SBDC, a resource partner of the SBA, has created a web page to help business owners understand the qualifications and application process. That web page is available here. Consultants across the network’s 13 locations are working remotely via phone, email and virtual tools to assist clients.
On Saturday March 21 the Small Business Administration (SBA) declared all of the counties in Wisconsin an SBA Economic Disaster. The SBA will be offering disaster assistance loans for small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Disaster assistance loans will be offered up to $2M. These loans are working capital loans designed to sustain your business in the way it could have existed if the disaster had not occurred (assessing your ability to pay accounts payable, payroll, paying fixed debt, and other operating expenses). These loans are not intended to be for equipment, expansion or to cover past lost profits or make up for an already struggling business before the disaster. Applications and loans are made directly through the SBA…not through a bank.
*Full information: Click here for details on how to apply from Luke Kempen at the Eau Claire SBDC Office
*Webinars for Wisconsin Businesses to help Wisconsin businesses prepare and apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans
Daily at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. through Friday, Mar 27
Register to attend a webinar this week at 10am here.
Register to attend a webinar this week at 2pm here.
SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Assistance Page (Wisconsin SBDC)
Tony Evers order suspends utility late fees, stops disconnections for commercial and industrial accounts
Gov. Tony Evers has authorized Wisconsin utility regulators to take special actions to protect consumers during the COVID-19 public health emergency. In an executive order Sunday Evers, suspended several administrative rules, allowing the Public Service Commission to take temporary actions to protect public welfare.
Tony Evers order suspends utility late fees, stops disconnections for commercial and industrial accounts (Wisconsin State Journal)
Wis. Department of Revenue: Like the IRS, Wisconsin extends tax filing deadline to July 15
Both federal and Wisconsin income tax payment and return due dates are automatically extended to July 15, 2020. Wisconsin law will automatically extend time and waive interest and penalties for taxpayers due to a presidentially declared disaster.
Governor Tony Evers said, “this is just one more thing we can do for Wisconsinites during this challenging time. Our main goal is to assist our citizens in any way that we can.”
Wisconsin Dept of Revenue announcement with details
Updated Business Guidance from WEDC
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. has issued a useful 18-page guide. Click the link to view or download it:
NAVIGATING THROUGH COVID-19 IN WISCONSIN - Strategies and Resources for Small Businesses
and Community Groups
Grants for businesses with 20 and fewer employees
A $5 million program targeting grants of up to $20,000 to small businesses of 20 or fewer employees and less than $2 million in annual revenues was announced March 18 by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). The "Small Business 20/20" grant money can be used to cover rent and to meet payroll expenses, including paid leave (including sick, family and other leave related to COVID-19). The grants will be deployed by partnering with state’s 23 community development financial institutions. WEDC plans to identify the participating CDFIs within the next two weeks.
WEDC announces targeted grants to small businesses suffering losses due to coronavirus emergency (WEDC)
Eligibility requirements and how it works (WEDC)
COVID-19 Business Resources Page (WEDC)
Governor Evers: Emergency Order waiving work search, modifying availability requirements for unemployment benefits
Gov. Tony Evers Wednesday issued Emergency Order #7 waiving work search requirements and modifying the availability requirements for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits for workers impacted by COVID-19. It waives requirement that UI claimants conduct at least four weekly work search actions during the COVID-19 emergency. This section of the order is retroactively effective to March 12, 2020. This order also ensures that claimants who are otherwise eligible but out of work due to COVID-19 are considered available for work and therefore eligible for benefits. The order goes into effect immediately and will remain in effect for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
“This emergency order follows the federal guidance related to administering unemployment insurance benefit claims during the pandemic period and allows the program to support our workers who have been affected,” said Gov. Evers. “Many Wisconsin workers are facing financial burden and stress due to the COVID-19 outbreak and this order will help them access some additional support. My Administration plans to continue to work with state legislators and our federal partners on initiatives to help impacted workers.”
The Governor also said he is working with the Wisconsin State Legislature to quickly act to waive the one-week waiting period for benefits so that much-needed unemployment insurance funds make it to affected workers quickly.
In a conference call on Wednesday organized by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, Department of Workforce Development Secretary Caleb Frostman suggested that businesses who must reduce hours consider utilizing a "work share" arrangement where hours are uniformly reduced among employees, making them eligible for pro-rata unemployment insurance benefits, but keeping them associated with their employer to maintain access to benefits. He also noted that Job Centers are being kept open and have access to temporary jobs that employees may be able to utilize to add to their income.
Governor Evers to Issue Emergency Order (DWD)
Evers Emergency Order #7 (Governor Evers)
Unemployment Insurance Coronavirus FAQs and information (DWD)
How to use work share (DWD)
Employer and Employee rights and responsibilities
The links below has useful information about employer and employee rights and responsibilities related to COVID-19, including answers to typical questions, such as infection control strategies, what to do if an employee is out sick with COVID-19, etc.
Equal Rights COVID-19 Public Information (DWD)
Wisconsin health-related resources
Department of Health Services COVID-19 Page, including guidance for employers (DHS)
Eau Claire County Coronavirus Resource Page (Eau Claire City-County Health Dept.)
Local, State and National COVID-19 Business Resources
Eau Claire Area Economic Development Corp
Downtown Eau Claire Inc (DECI) - scroll all the way down to "Resources for Business"
Small Business Development Center (UW-Eau Claire)
Employer Infographics from WMC
To help spread awareness at your business, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) has put together a series of infographics for you to distribute and print. To view these, please click here:
- Infographic #1: Keeping the Workplace Safe
- infographic #2: Keeping Commercial Establishments Safe
- Infographic #3: Stop Germs! Wash Your Hands
COVID-19 Business Resource Pages from state and national organizations:
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce
Wisconsin Restaurant Association
COVID-19 Updates for employers (MRA)
Coronavirus Q&A for Employers (MRA)
US Chamber of Commerce
Posted by Scott Rogers, Governmental Affairs & Workforce Director